Sometimes I need a filter between my brain and my mouth.
This is not the way to get one.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Elena Grace

I remember sitting on our giant bed on Sunday 18 January 2009, I was watching a program on babies that were born with disabilities. It broke my heart to see those families in so much pain, but made me so happy that those families were filled with so much love. I hugged my big belly, I hugged you and I said to you that you could be anyone and we would love you, that we already loved you beyond words. I promised that I would stop complaining that you were late and be here for you whenever you were ready to arrive.

And you were listening…

I woke up at about 5am on Monday 19 January 2009 to go to the loo. There was nothing special about that really, 5am I usually got up for the loo as you’d finally spent enough time pummelling my bladder that I caved in and finally went.

The difference was the undeniable sign I got that you had decided to arrive. I waddled back to your dad who was still asleep, gently shook his shoulder and asked ‘Are you ready to be a dad today?’

I tried to go back to sleep, but felt too excited. I wasn’t having any contractions (that I was aware of) and when your dad’s alarm went off at 6:30am I told him to go to work anyway, that it would be ages before we needed to go to the hospital. I also suddenly got really serious and begged your dad to make sure he always had his phone in his pocket or at the very least within reach. I had this sudden fear that your dad wouldn’t be in contact and so continually made points about his phone until he left for the day.

I called your Nanna (my Mum) about 7am. With your dad gone I wasn’t so confident about being on my own. You decided it would be great to be born on your Nanna’s rostered day off. Your Nanna said she would get ready and be over as soon as she could. I was getting mild period pain type twinges by this stage, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Your Nanna got to the house at about 8am. Pain still more than bareable, but certainly increasing in strength. I was still in bed, I can’t remember if I had any breakfast. I most likely did as your Nanna would have made me eat something. Time rolled along and the pains started to take some grip on me, and I winced through them. It was probably about 9am by this stage. Your Nanna suggested I have a shower, which I agreed to. For some reason I was quite adamant that I didn’t want to wet my hair, that it had to stay dry. I had very long hair when you were born, I could sit on it, but I tied it back in a bun like I did most days, hopped into the shower and turned on the water.

The water was great on my back and my contractions steadily got stronger. I think it was during this time that your Nanna called the hospital to find out exactly what had to be happening to warrant coming in. Your Nanna had been helping me time the contractions since just after she arrived, and they were getting closer together and lasting longer.

By about 10:30am my contractions were sufficient to warrant heading in to hospital. Your Nanna called your dad and for whatever reason it was decided that your Nanna would drive me to the hospital. I still don’t know why. I wonder if it’s because things were moving faster than anyone thought they would. We didn’t live far from the hospital, but birth is one of those funny things that make people more cautious than normal. Not a bad thing really.

So I get dressed and I tentatively make my way down the stairs. I get into Nanna’s car and we drive to the hospital. I have 2 or 3 ouch-y contractions on the way there, but we make it and I start my way up the 2 flights of stairs to the maternity ward. There was no lift, or at least no lift close enough to be of any use to me. Half way up the stairs on the first landing I have a contraction. Some poor man on his way down looks concerned, and I do recall him asking me if I needed a wheelchair. It’s only now that I realise how odd that questions was. We were on a flight of stairs. Short of him carrying me IN the wheelchair I couldn’t see it being of much use. But the thought was lovely and I’m pretty certain I thanked him.

Finally make it to the maternity ward and the midwives are expecting me. I get shown to my room and I have a contraction at the front desk and another shortly after I get into the room. I’m bending over, leaning on the window sill for support, swaying my hips in what I’m sure was a magnificent display of bored zoo elephant behaviour. The groaning was more seal-ish than elephant.

The midwife comes into the room. Her name is Joy, and it turns out that she will be the one to deliver you as the Obstetrician will arrive after you do. I remember Joy asking how I was, and my response being that I’d be fine once I get an epidural. Your Nanna asked me if I wanted to try the gas and everything first – I think I may have shot her a dirty look. I should apologise for that – your Nanna was simply pointing out what I had originally thought. But that was before I knew what a contraction felt like. And this wasn’t even the pushing stage, so gas could be skipped and I was ready for the drugs!

Joy left the room or order the epidural (bless her!) and your Nanna continued to talk me through each contraction, reminding me to breathe, not hold my breath, to make as much noise as I needed to. I think it may have been around this time that your dad calls your Nanna to say that he has to get petrol and will be there soon. I’m not ashamed to say that quite a few unflattering thoughts travelled through my mind when I heard that. One in particular I believe may have been ‘What sort of twit doesn’t have fuel in the car when his wife is in labour!?’

Regardless I continue to labour with your Nanna in support, with your Pop calling now and then to see how everything is going. I can just imagine the charming seal noises he could hear in the background trying to talk to your Nanna.

Joy comes back and asks if she can check how far along things are. I lay back and suddenly my water breaks. It feels like I’ve just peed my pants but 100 times in a row, all at once. This is a good sign and I’m already about 5cm dilated.

I sit up again to hang my legs over the side of the bed, and I hold your Nanna’s hands and squeeze both through every contraction, trying to breathe and making roaring noises when I breathe out to try and distract myself from the pain. Your poor Nanna. I don’t think she would admit it but I think she almost needed corrective surgery on her hands when I was finished.

Finally your dad arrives, and Joy has news of my epidural. It’ll be an hour before it gets here. I half cry, half scream in frustration and pain. We look at the clock and decide that my epidural should be administered by about 1pm. And that was the goal. To last one final hour and then get some relief.

More sitting on the edge of the bed, holding your dad’s hand too now and continuing to hand crunch, breathe and roar my way through the next hour.

But it was my lucky day and I only had to wait 45mins. The anaesthesiologist arrived and started to get things organised for the epidural. I’ve never been so happy to see a man with a needle in my whole life.
I had to curl over a pillow and remain exactly still when he was inserting the needle into my back. I think you knew how important it was for me to remain still, and the few moments it took for him to get the needle in, the catheter set up and everything taped down so I could lay back again, you gave me some reprieve. I was very grateful to you at that moment.

Once the epidural was in and the meds started being put through everything became so much more manageable. People may say that epidurals are bad – but for me it was the best thing.
After that we were left to our own devices, and I had something to eat while your dad and Nanna chatted. Your Pop called again to see how things were going, and they were going swimmingly according to me! And it was around this time that I discovered an embarrassing side effect of the fabulous epidural.

The three of us chatting got us all laughing, and the laughter caused muscles to contract. Muscles that I no longer could feel or had control over. Muscles that suddenly meant I was farting with the frequency of a machine gun. Which caused more laughter which caused more involuntary farting. It was a vicious circle which took some time to die down. That’s the most hilarious memory I have of your birth. And may not be something you want to share with the world…just a suggestion.

Joy came back into the room to do another check – and it was amazing but I was 10cm and it was time to push.

Latex gloves began snapping all around me and I got a crash course in pushing from Joy. After a few wrong attempts I got the right idea, and soon I was pushing with the best of them. Your dad was holding one leg, Joy the other, and I was using them to push my feet against to get some leverage to bear down. Your Nanna was cheering from the sidelines.

It felt like an eternity, but it wasn’t long before Joy announced she could see your head. It was around this time that the epidural was starting to wear off and I was afraid it was going to suddenly disappear and leave me wallowing in an ocean of pain. I kept saying to your dad I wanted it over and I didn’t want to do this anymore. Apparently irrational comments are perfectly normal around this stage. Comforting.

Either way your head was out before I knew it, but I got a sudden wave of nausea. Joy told me to stop pushing and wait a moment, but the nausea was overwhelming and I screamed at your Nanna for a bowl because I was going to be sick!

3 heaves later, and you were delivered into Joy’s arms with your dad watching. It was 2:56pm.

Your dad got to cut your cord, and you were wrapped in a towel and placed in my arms. I was so surprised and happy and shocked at the whole event I just looked at you. You had your dad’s blue eyes (and you still do, I believe you will keep them forever) and my nose. You had curls from day 1 poor baby. But with a family like ours you were always destined to have challenging hair.

But you were, and still are, perfect.

You didn’t cry – you just opened your eyes and drank in me and your dad. You had such an intense stare, I felt like you were reminding me of what I had said the previous night, and I told you that I meant every word. You can be whomever you want, we do and will love you always and more than anything.

After a few moments I started asking why your hands and feet were so blue, and I started to worry there was something wrong, and maybe that’s why you didn’t cry. But you were fine, just small and struggling to maintain your body temperature. You slept in a warming bed the whole time we were in hospital, rugged up to the eyeballs. Very ironic considering you were born in Darwin during the wet season...

Your placenta was very small and I remember the medical staff commenting on it. But you’re a small package and have been so dainty since you were born, I wouldn’t have expected anything different.
From there your Nanna took pictures, and so did your dad. Nanna held you and then gave us all big hugs and kisses before she left us to be our own little family for a while.

Your dad sent word out via text that you had arrived, and phoned your Nanna and Opa to let them know you had entered the world.

Everything from there has been such an adventure, and we are grateful every day that you are in our lives. We couldn’t imagine life without you and know we are complete with you.

So our little Peanut, this is the story of you. Of how you came into the world and brought a universe with you in those big, blue eyes…

Elena Grace
19 Jan 2009, 2:56pm
40wks + 3days
6lb 15oz

Elena, 15mths
Elena, 15mths

Elena & Mummy - 6mths old
Elena, 15mths, Family Wedding in Hawaii


  1. What a fantastic story :)
    And Elena is just stunning. She looks so beautiful in her dress in the wedding photo!

  2. What a beautiful story - and Elena is just beautiful - like really goodness, what a little doll!!


Thanks for the comment - it helps validate the fact that I'm not just talking to myself.

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